Published in the September 26, 2011 issue of The New Yorker, "Dog Run Moon" by Callahan Wink is a rapid paced story that takes the reader through a night of terror and exposure across the desert rock.
I enjoyed reading "Dog Run Moon" for its fast pace, deft scenes, and colorful characters. However, the characters, Montana Bob and Charlie Chaplin, cross the line into caricature. They are funny. They are over the top. Are they believable? Not really. Montana Bob seems written in the vein of Yosemite Sam and Charlie Chaplin is a small, hard man with the speaking ability of Silent Bob.
Moreover, the action of the story revolves around Sid stealing Montana Bob's dog and running away from his failed relationship. There will always be stories of people running away from failed relationships. How does Callahan Wink take a different spin on this theme? For the most part, he doesn't. Sid drives past his ex's house. Sid muses over what he would have told her, if he could have. Things take a small turn in that Sid is actually running away, totally naked and bleeding, in the middle of the night.
It's a fun take on the failed relationship story. How do people feel when they get dumped? They are tired, exposed, seeking escape, and hurt. The story starts with Sid fleeing naked over the desert rock. He's alone, he's pushed to the limit, and at the breaking point. Everything that happens mirrors his inner life.
What adds to this story is how well Wink manages scenes. He gives enough information, but holds back. It propels the reader into the next scene and a little more story is uncovered. The writing is also quite strong. The harsh landscape is captured as it cuts and rips at Sid's body. There's an eye for detail and a dynamic use of language.
Someone looking at this story from the academic lit world might want to pick it apart, but not all stories need to be weighty explorations of the human condition. Overall, "Dog Run Moon" is exciting, well written, and immensely enjoyable.
Interview with Callahan Wink from the Book Bench.